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FDAH: Producers not cutting costs back on animal health

By Staff | Jun 12, 2009

-Farm News photo by Larry Kershner representatives of Fort Dodge Animal Health, wearing gray shirts, talk with visitors at their booth last week at the World Pork Expo at the Polk County 4-H and FFA Fairgrounds.

DES MOINES – Despite any temptations that this downed ag economy presents, one spokesman for Fort Dodge Animal Health said he sees no one cutting costs for animal health.

Farm News caught up with Gary Robertson at last week’s World Pork Expo, where FDAH had a booth and a hospitality tent. Robertson is product manager for cattle and swine.

He said most of the producers he met at the exposition, which was held in the Iowa State Fairgrounds, continue to talk about production efficiencies, especially in terms of preventing health problems, rather than treating them.

“We’ve seen very few people cut back on animal health protocols,” Robertson said, “because it costs those guys in the long run.” Instead, he added, producers are cutting back and sacrificing in other areas of herd management.

Scott Bormann, FDAH’s vice president of livestock sales, said one of those management decisions is “more stringent culling protocols” in eliminating their low-producing animals from the herd.

When asked about the impact last January of Pfizer Inc., based in New York City, acquiring Wyeth, FDAH’s parent company, Robertson said, “It’s too soon to tell.” Despite uncertainty in the long-term prospects for the Fort Dodge facility, Robertson said all employees are continuing to help producers focus on the essentials including the cost-effective use of vaccines.

“We’ve concentrated on costs,” Robertson said, “and our trials show there is a (significant) return on average daily gain with using vaccines.”

FDAH is based in Overland Park, Kan., and Wyeth is headquartered in Madison, N.J.

“We are concentrating on our business goals and objectives,” Robertson said. “We are focusing on our customers and things are progressing.” He added that the local workforce “has stepped up.

“We have more product available than we ever had. So although things are uncertain, they are still being productive.”

Robertson said the role FDAH plays in the livestock industry has not changed. “We are still a provider of animal health solutions,” he said. During last week’s exposition, FDAH held a press conference on the H1N1 virus and economic outlooks for Iowa’s livestock industry.

At the World Pork Expo, Robertson and Bormann said many swine producers are still concerned about the impact of the H1N1 virus on the market. The virus is often called “swine flu” within the media. Fearing that consumers would think the flu came from pork, the futures cash price dropped significantly and has not fully recovered a month later.

“They (swine producers) believe this will turn around,” Robertson said, “but when will it turn around is the big question, and how long can they hang in there waiting for it?”

Bormann said the current ag market situation is unique in that “all of the sectors are down.”

He said in other slow times, if swine prices were low, cattle prices were up, or dairy prices were up, or vice versa. But right now, “everything is down,” he said.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, ext. 453, or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com.

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